Six things I learned from my first National Novel Writing Month participation

  1. It’s not hard to write 2000+ words a day. When I’m really rolling, I wrote that much in a few hours–maybe three.
  2. Having a self-imposed deadline made it easier to write. Reaching that concrete goal gave me added pressure but increased my motivation.
  3. Plot, outline, and create characters first, then write. Don’t sweat the small stuff–typos, bad grammar, convoluted sentences–until the big picture (solid plot, engaging characters, good story arc, sufficient tension, solid opening and climactic ending) is in place.
  4. I can see where some people might get caught up in the community spirit of NaNoWriMo and spend all their time blogging about it, chatting online about it, reading articles about how to survive NNWM, or just plain bitching about how hard it is to find time to write 1667 words every day. My takeaway: write the 1667 words FIRST, then socialize with the NNWM community.
  5. For my next NaNoWriMo I’m going to write the bare bones of my story all the way through to the end first. Then if that’s not at least 50,000 words, I’ll go back and flesh out each scene. This time I started at scene one and wrote each as if I were writing a first draft. Unfortunately, I didn’t get through half my scenes by the time I hit 50,000 words.
  6. I plan to use the NNWM model for future projects, no matter what month I start them. So for each subsequent novel, I’ll spend a month or so plotting and planning, then grind out 50,000 words in one month (or set another goal, say a full 80,000 word novel in two months time).

What did you learn from National Novel Writing Month this year? A good tip is worth sharing with others.

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